"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am unworthy to bear; he will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire." Matt. iii. 11.
"The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him and saith, Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." JOHN 1:29.
Both of these texts were spoken by the same person, John the Baptist; one, while he was preaching, and the other, in his introduction of Jesus to the world. In the first one, any one can see that there are two baptisms, two experiences, spoken of. The first baptism with water, and the second baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire. The first a baptism unto repentance. Here is the main trouble with most people and their experiences. They do not get started right. In New York City I have noticed that they spend much time, sometimes several months, blasting out and excavating for a foundation. They spend much time digging down into the solid rock, and there they lay the foundation; and when once the foundation is laid, up goes the building very rapidly, until it is a thing of beauty, lifting its head twenty or thirty stories high, and no danger is felt at that height, for its foundation is secure and safe. Just so with our experiences. If we are sure of the foundation, we can build with safety, but if the foundation is not safe and sure, I care not how high you try to build, every fellow who comes along with a Jerusalem blade will put you in doubt and fear. Your experience will be unsatisfactory, unsound, unsafe. Now the foundation of our experience depends much on what kind of repentance we have experienced. Briefly speaking, there are four vital points in repentance. A knowledge of sin, which every one must have before he will pray. Prayer is not simply kneeling down and reading off, or saying, a few words. Prayer is the breathing of the soul to its Creator; the inward, heartfelt desires; no one will have many such desires until he comes to the realization of his true condition before God: that he is lost, unsaved, undone and bound for Hell, unless he has "been born again:" such a realization as that will cause to truly pray.
The second step is a godly sorrow for sin, so sorrowful that sins will be confessed, old debts paid, stolen things returned, and the past made right. This is generally a hard fight. The inbred, inborn, fallen nature that we inherited from the Fall, makes the sinner proud and defiant. He finds it hard to confess. That woman who lied about her neighbor, finds it hard to confess her lies. The man who stole finds it hard to confess his theft, and old grudges are sore. Young people find it hard to break away from their worldly associates, and the devil is always around telling them they will not have any more pleasure if they turn from their cards, dances, theaters and worldly pastimes; this old world is no friend to help us on to God. That inherited carnal mind is enmity against God, and is an ally of the devil; it responds to his suggestions, and the poor heart struggling to open its door to the Son of God is filled with ten thousand fears and forebodings, all prompted by the devil. He will say "you don't have to confess that lie, and if you confess it, your character is gone," and "you don't have to confess that small thing you took that did not belong to you. True, you had your car-fare in your hand, and it was not your fault the conductor did not see you, and what are five or ten cents anyway. You don't have to go to the company's office and confess that you owe them for two street car rides." All this, and thousands of other things that may bear on your case, he will pile on to the awakened soul. "If you confess you stole they will lock you up," and "that old debt is out-lawed," but I would rather be locked up, even if they would, than to be sent to Hell forever. Brother, no honest debt is ever out-lawed in God's sight, so you will have to confess or meet your wrong doing at the bar of God. Here is where the digging and blasting goes on. The old nature rises up, and pride of position, or name, or character is held up before the struggling soul and the fight is on, and all Heaven stands and watches the contest, for the salvation or damnation of the soul depends largely on the issue.
A gentleman in Scotland said to me last winter, "I understand there is much opposition to the second work of grace in your country." "Oh no," I replied, "the fight is all over the first work, for those who have the first, never fight the second." A good, old, genuine case of repentance will lead to a sky-blue regeneration, that makes the soul ready for anything God has for it. When I hear of professors or preachers who fight the second work of grace, I know they are not in possession of the first work. Holiness is the spirit of God, and God never fights Himself. If folks would only get started right! Too many are trying to build and have no foundations. They "joined the church" or got a modern conversion by holding up their finger, or signing a card, or gave the preacher their hand in a popular wave and were called converts, while the devil and all Hell laughed in hellish glee at the miserable, damning farce. There can no regeneration take place without a true repentance, and that means a confession of sin, not to God in the secret closet, but first to the one sinned against, then to God. How public should the confession be? As public as the sin committed. Men drink, swear, lie, steal, commit adultery -- and women, too, for that matter, -- and never in this world or the next will they find God's pardon, until they confess. You may go away from this service and try it, but it will meet you at the Judgment Bar, and there, if not before, your sin will find you out. Oh, I would confess and get it out of the way.
With confession comes restitution. It may take all you have to settle up, but better it be so and you start on again with God and all Heaven at your back to see you through, and gain an entrance to the beautiful Gate, than to have what you got dishonestly, to die and sink into Hell forever. I have no doubt that there are some things in some lives that can never be straightened out in this life, but in that heart God must see a willingness to do so before He will plant the kiss of pardon on the brow. I remember of sitting in a Methodist church in the far south some years ago, and of hearing a man in the pulpit tell his experience. It stirred the large congregation to tears and deeds of genuine repentance and many found salvation. He said, "I was a mercantile thief, hiding behind the homestead laws of my state, but I was rather unconscious of my awful condition until God began to deal with me. I sat one night in my home until after midnight debating the question, and finally wife and I concluded we would join the church and be Christians. I said, I will tell it to the first man I meet tomorrow. On leaving my home the first man I met was my lawyer, at my gate. I said, 'Good morning, Mr. Brown. I am a Christian.' He looked at me in great amazement, and then said: 'You a Christian? What about that account you owe that St. Louis firm, and that old account over at Ft. Worth?' And he went on telling me of accounts that I honestly owed, and as my lawyer he knew I was not trying to pay. In a moment the situation dawned upon me, and turning about I walked out of town into a grove, and getting down before God I told Him I would give up all, sell my home and all that was in it and pay my honest debts, if He would pardon my sins. In the afternoon I went home and talked far into the night to make my wife see it as I did. The next morning I went to my lawyer and told him to figure up how much I owed, and in a few days the lawyer told me. I said, 'Now I will invoice my business, and I want you to figure up what it is all worth.' It was done, and the lawyer informed me that what I had would about pay what I owed. 'Now get up a sale and sell it off and pay my debts.' The lawyer told me I was crazy, and the people said I had lost my mind over religion; but the day of the sale came. Things were going very low, and I walked around sad. I thought of how I had worked and saved to get that comfortable home, and now it was all going; I had nothing left; all was going. I felt sad, and I knew my wife would feel worse. I started to find her; my heart was heavy; I wandered from one room to another, and finally went in the front room. In that room there was a bay window, and at the window some curtains that had been quite costly and of which my wife had been very proud. Those curtains had, next to her home, been her idol. With a heavy heart I went into that room; wife had pushed the table to the window and with a chair on the table was up taking down the curtains, and with tears in her eyes was singing, 'O think of the home over there.' She was feeling the loss of her home here, but was looking forward to her home over there."
God afterwards called that man and wife out to work for Him, and I have seen them while the altar was filled with seekers.
Oh, brother, don't cling to anything that is not yours in the sight of God. Clean up, pay up, and you will get something far better than the fleeting pleasures of this life, and "a home over there," that will not fade away. The last step is just to completely abandon all sin of all kinds and turn to Jesus, and He will reveal Himself to you, and you will have no trouble to "leave all and follow Him." The fight will be over and peace and gladness will come.
Now, I want you to notice that is exactly what the disciples did under the straight, clean, clear preaching of John on repentance. They were ready, and when Jesus revealed Himself to them and said unto them, "Follow me," the Book says they left all and followed Him -- ships, occupation. father, all; no struggle now. And when Andrew had found Him, he went immediately after his brother and brought him to Jesus. You get salvation on these lines, and when once you get it you will go at once after those you love best. No difficulty then to talk to loved ones, for the joy that has come is so great you want all to get it at once. Many times have we seen folks seeking for days, digging down and laying the foundation by earnestly and honestly repenting and getting the past straightened up the best they could, until in their desperation they have thrown up their hands and cast themselves on His mercy, have believed in Jesus, and the sunshine of pardon has broken over their faces and the joy bells have rung; and up they have jumped and away they have gone for their loved ones. Folks who genuinely repent and dig through to God on those lines, do not backslide the first time the preacher fails to notice them, or they are not made president of the Ladies' Aid Society. They do not throw it away easily; it cost too much to get it. Do you see what John's baptism unto repentance stands for? Have you repented and gotten a sky blue case of regeneration, that makes you willing to leave all and follow Him? If not, you will make no further advance until you do.
But now let us look at the second baptism. We will suppose we were among John's audience and hearing him preach. We had been repenting, walking in all the light we had, had been fixing up the past, paid for the suit of clothes we had worn out year before last, straightened up everything so far as we were able, had brought forth fruits meet for repentance. John had baptized us and we were listening to him preach, when one day he suddenly stopped and, raising his arm, points off over the crowd. We turn to look, and that vast assembly has, as if by common consent, divided, and down the living corridor of humanity there comes One with such a stately, kingly tread, and such a face and brow. We turn to John, and he cries out, "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." "John, is that the Messiah?" "Yes." "The one you told us of? The One who would baptize us with the Holy Ghost?" "Yes." "Well, good-bye, John," and away they went after Jesus. Repentance and faith introduce us to Christ. The disciples followed Jesus from that time on, and just before He left them He said, "John baptized with water unto repentance, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." They obeyed Him; they tarried in the upper room; and they were baptized with the Holy Ghost When John introduced Jesus he said, "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." When we speak of the world many think of the sea, and rocks and land, but it does not mean these things. The Greek word used is kosmos, which means the inhabitants of the world. Then again, the sea and rocks and land cannot sin, but the inhabitants do, and Jesus came to take that sin away; not simply suppress it, but to take it away. The great crowning act of the devil was impregnating sin into the lives of the first pair, or robbing them of their pure, Divine nature, and in turn giving them his own sinful, devilish, nature, which the entire human family has inherited (i Cor. xv. 22.) That inbred, inborn, damnable thing gives birth to every evil act that can take place in a human heart. It is the great sin of the human family of the world, and the Lamb of God came to take it away. The Book says, "He was manifested to destroy the works of the devil." (The Greek for destroy is luo, pronounced loo-o, and means destroy, dissolve, unloose, put off.) That inborn nature is called the "old man." In Rom. viii. 7 it is called the "carnal mind" and that same verse informs us "that it is not subject to the law of God." God can do nothing with it but kill it, take it away, and that great work Jesus came to do, bless His dear name!
John said, "Behold, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." You will notice that the word "sin" is in the singular number. Inbred or inherited sin (the carnal mind) is always spoken of in the singular number, but when the singular number is used it does not always mean the carnal mind. Webster's definition of sin is that it is divided into two classes. Actual sin and original sin. Actual sin is that which we do which is wrong, wicked acts committed, transgressions, and for which we find pardon when we repent and turn to God. Original sin is that which we have inherited from the fall; that inborn, devilish nature, the carnal mind. God cannot pardon a soul of its original sin, because it is not an act, but was thus born. Hence, the soul to be saved from all sin must have another work performed for it besides pardon, and it was that other work that John said Jesus would do. Take it away; not only grant us a pardon for our actual sin, but cleanse us from the inward defilement of original sin. Allow me to illustrate my meaning. We will suppose that this desk represents God on His throne, and around this desk we will draw an imaginary circle several feet in diameter, with the desk in the center. We will say the circle represents the kingdom of God and His throne in the center. Now I am born as a child by my parents, born into this world, and I am born thus in the kingdom. That is to say, if I die in my childish innocence the atonement stands for me. I could not love or serve a God who would damn my little, innocent child if it should die in its infancy. Well, so when I am born of my parents I am in the kingdom, am under the atonement; I have no actual sin, but while I am born under the atonement, in the kingdom, yet I am born with my back toward the throne, my back toward God; that is, there is a natural tendency in my nature to go away from God and off into sin. That natural tendency is a proneness to wander, a bent to sin, a proclivity towards evil. That is the carnal mind that is in me, or original sin. It is no act, but an inherited, inward tendency in my very nature. My parents ought to turn me around and introduce me to my Savior. Conversion means to turn around. And whenever I do anything wrong, my parents should deal with me and teach me how wrong it is and how it grieves God, and tell me of Jesus who said, "Suffer the little ones to come unto me;" they should do this so that my first step forward would carry me straight towards God. But they do not do it, so I remain under the atonement in that position until I arrive at the age or state of accountability, and when I do, as I know right from wrong, the first step forward, that is the first time I do wrong after knowing right from wrong, I commit an actual sin, and that carries me out from beneath the atonement, out of the kingdom, and now I am a sinner. I had nothing but original sin in me, and had no need of a pardon, as I had never committed sin. Had I died in that condition the Blood stood for me. Jesus would have sanctified me, cleansed my innocent soul and taken me home to Heaven. But now that I have committed an actual sin, I have both actual and original sin, and I must be pardoned of what I have done.
For argument's sake we will say that the line of accountability is at ten years of age. It varies and may be below that with some and above with others. I run off down here say thirty years, and am now forty years of age. There are thirty years of actual sin piled upon my soul, besides the original sin I was born with. How many wicked habits I have formed, and worldly associations I have made, and oh, so many wrong doings in these thirty years of actual sinning. but I get under conviction. What for? My original sin? No, sir; my actual sin, my wrong doings, and the truth dawns upon me, and the sin of my wicked life rises up before me. All those thirty years I have been traveling farther away from God. My back toward the kingdom, I have gone a long way from my childish innocence, and I begin to repent, turn about face, and start on the back track. A knowledge of my sin has caused me to turn about, and with a real godly sorrow for my wicked life I start back. How hard it is! Sinful habits have a hold on me, and to break off old associations is like pulling out the right eye, or cutting off the right arm, but if ever I get back to the kingdom I must retrace my steps, all must be confessed, wrongs righted, wicked and sinful habits abandoned, everything wicked, vile, impure, or worldly that was picked up or formed in those thirty years of actual sin must be confessed and abandoned. Oh, the soul that has taken that weary march, fighting the devil, running the gauntlet of the sneers and gibes of abandoned companions in sin! Every inch of the way being stoutly contested by that unborn, damnable thing, whispering to us of how it will look and what folks will say; making mountains of our sins, telling us that it is no use, we could not live or stick to it. I say, the soul that has passed through such an experience, never this side of eternity's gates forgets it.
Some folks tell me that they don't know when they were converted, or born again. True, they don't know because it never happened. Why, they never have repented, and how could they know when they were born again? Friends, it took me ten days to make this journey; ten days of repenting, ten days of confessing. Oh, brother, you can call yourself happy if you get off with that or less. Lies to be confessed, wrongs to make right, old habits to forsake. How I struggled with my tobacco! How I argued with the Lord! Why, preachers use it, why not I? Oh, that battle I never will forget it to my dying day. Neither will you if you press your way back and get clear through. But, thank God, it can be done. Oft times the nearer the end of the journey the darker it gets. All has been straightened that can be; more would be if possible to do so. Oh, how dark it gets! The devil is doing his best. You have made a fool of yourself; you don't feel any different; now see what you have done. And so on with his lying insinuations, until the soul, with desperate, agonizing cry, throws up its hands and cries, "Save, Lord, or I perish; have mercy on me," and out of the gloom and darkness there appears to the soul, a face, oh, so lovely, and a loving, compassionate smile over spreads that face, and "peace" is spoken. The soul ceases its entreaties, listens for a moment, surprised, bewildered at first, but the truths burst upon its consciousness that its prayers are answered and the work is done. The burden rolls away, darkness turns to day, sorrow to joy, and weeping to rejoicing. Oh, glory to God! Do you mean to tell me that a soul that has passed through an experience like that, can, or ever will forget it? I say, you are ignorant of what you are saying.
And what a time of rejoicing! Jesus said there was more joy in Heaven over one sinner that repented, than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance. All that thirty years of "actual sin is as completely wiped off the record as if it had never been committed. And all the pollution that had settled upon, or over the soul, as a result of its actual sin or sins committed, was washed away by pardon. God never does things by piece-meal and when He grants a pardon He does it in keeping with His matchless grace. Hallelujah! Every sin the sinner has committed, from the hour he committed his first sin that brought him out from under the shelter of the atonement up to the moment that peace was spoken, is completely and forever blotted out: and everything that was picked up along the way, vile habits, wicked and worldly associations are broken and done away with, and the sinner has become a new creature in Christ Jesus. The Book says, "Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new." 2 Cor. v.17.
"Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." I Cor. xv. 57. "Hallelujah unto him that loved us and loosed us from our sins." Rev. i. 5. (Revised Version.)
What a tremendous work: loosed us from our sins, separated us from them, untied us, we were bound but Jesus loosed us. Glory! New creatures, not the same old creatures any more, a new man. That old, vile tobacco smoking, spitting, stinking, card playing, swearing, proud, selfish, theater-going, horse-racing, lodge joining life is gone. Old things have passed away, gone forever. All things have become new. Praise God! A brand new creature is on His hands, a birth has taken place, and he has now a babe in Christ: and who in the world ever heard of a new born babe playing cards or running off to the dance or theater? Who ever saw a new born babe with a filthy cud of tobacco, or a stinking cigar in its mouth? Who ever heard of a babe running off to some secret lodge composed largely of men who were blasphemers and Christ rejecters? Why, the very idea is preposterous! The young convert is a babe in Christ, a new creature. Old things have passed away, and so with a real, genuine, sky-blue case of regeneration received subsequent to a death dealing, dying, old fashioned repentance. That new creature is a child of God, has been born again, born from above, born of God, and is now the son or daughter of God. Imagine if you can, the Son of God, Jesus, our Elder Brother, sitting down to a game of cards or attending a theater, or coming down the street spitting, smoking and stinking, the way a lot of folks who profess to be God's children are doing today. No, sir, according to this old Book, they are not His children. Old things have not passed away with them, nor have all things become new.
I tell you this old Book does expose and bring to light the miserable, soul damning, worldly profession of today. A man comes to the altar and tells me he is seeking to be sanctified wholly and there is an odor about him from a vile, dirty habit that makes one fairly sick at the stomach to get near him. Why, sir, he needs to repent, and give up his filthiness and be born again. I have seen them come down the street poisoning God's own free, pure air with their vile habits, and when nearing the door of worship cast out of their mouths that filth and come in, bringing their sickening odor with them; and by and by come to the sacramental table, and, with the filthy stains on their foul lips, drink out of the same cup that many more must touch. Take your stand outside on almost any sacramental morn, and you can see him coming. There he comes! See him smoke and spit as he comes along, ladies and children walking along behind have to life their skirts and hold their nostrils. If you speak to him about it, he will angrily ask you, "What's it your business?" and talk loudly of free citizenship and a right to do as he pleases. He has no right to poison the water that I drink; then what right has he to poison the God-given pure air that my wife, my children, and myself have to breathe? There is a tank filled with drinking water there in the vestibule; which is the greater crime, for him to put poison in that water; to poison the air that I breathe; or, to come to the sacramental table and leave his poison on the rim of the cup where our wives and our children have to place their lips, to say nothing of ourselves? You tell me that such an unclean, ill-smelling, vile creature, is a new creature in Christ Jesus? I would not believe you on a stack of Bibles as high as yonder spire. The Book says, "Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will (future tense) receive you and will be a father unto you and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." All these promises depend on your coming out and being separate and touching not the unclean, and of all nasty, filthy, unclean habits, what is more filthy than the tobacco habit? "Mr. Preacher, did you ever use it?" Yes sir, for sixteen years, and tried to get God to pardon me without giving it up, but could not, and found no pardoning voice until I did give it up along with my other sins. Well, glory to Jesus! Do you see what the first work of grace means and what it will do for you? Holiness preachers are often accused of minifying and letting down the standard of regeneration or justification. Does that look like we were lowering the standard?
Now we will see what the second work of grace will do. Why the baptism with the Holy Ghost, the entire sanctification of our soul is absolutely necessary. Repentance and regeneration turns me around and blots out all my actual sin, and bring me back into the kingdom and underneath the atonement again. I am once more a babe, this time a babe in Christ. That old life and its record is gone forever. Before, when I was in the kingdom I had my back toward God and walked straight away from Him, but, thank God, I have been turned around and have retraced my steps and am in the kingdom with my face toward God. Glorious change, and now my whole desire is to obey Him while out there groping in the dark, I promised God if He would forgive me I would never sin against Him again. I meant it. God knew I meant it, and He would not pardon me until He could see that I did mean it. How happy is the soul in such a state! The disciples when they had found Jesus, left their all and followed Him and endeavored to induce others to do likewise. For a time everything goes on beautifully. I am happy in my new found joy. It would be very difficult to convince me that Jesus could do any more for me. This life of a newly regenerated soul is like one that has been raised from the dead, so happy in its new life that to it it seems almost impossible that Jesus could do more for it. Thus it is with many when appealed to too soon after their conversion, for, being regenerated, when spoken to about another work of grace, they open their eyes in astonishment and say, "Why how can that be, I am full now and over-f1owing, and if God gave me any more He would first have to enlarge the vessel." Right here is where many teachers of the second work of grace make a serious error. They talk much of the baptism with the Holy Spirit as a filling or an enduement for service, and talk along the line of something more. All this is right and true in a sense, but they fail to point out to the soul that before the Holy Ghost can come in, in all His fulness, filling and equipping the soul for service, that there is an inward defilement that must be cleansed out and away. First, that inward, indwelling, inborn carnality, which Webster defines as original sin; this thing could not be pardoned for it is not an act, hence must be reached by a different process than a pardon. Just as regeneration is a double work, a pardon of life to the soul that was dead in trespasses and sin, so the work of entire sanctification is a double work. It is a cleansing of the heart of that inborn, or inherited, original sin, and it is a filling with the Holy Ghost.
I am well aware that many teach but the one side of this question. Last winter, while in Scotland, a book written by Rev. R. A. Torrey of this country, entitled, "How to bring men to Christ," was handed to me, and from its pages we read these words, "There is a line of teaching on this subject that leads men to expect that if they receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the carnal nature will be eradicated. There is not a line of Scripture to support this position." I stopped and rubbed my eyes, reread the passage, and then opened my Bible and read Peter's testimony concerning the pouring out of the Holy Ghost on the household of Cornelius (see Acts 10th chapter and Acts 15th chapter.) Up at Jerusalem he was relating it and said, "And God which knoweth the hearts beareth them witness giving them the Holy Ghost even as he did to us, and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith." Allow me to read you his testimony of the occurrence from the revised text, "And he made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith." I wonder if Mr. Torrey has not read that passage. I have come across many followers of that sort of teaching, but have not heard them testify that they were sanctified wholly or cleansed from all sin. The Bible says, that "if we walk in the light .... the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from ALL sin." Those folks are always talking of getting baptized for service or for more power, but they will have to be cleansed from their original sin before the Holy Ghost will move in to abide, and when He comes, the soul will have power, the gift of the Holy Ghost is power, but that will never take place until the heart is first cleansed from its inward defilement.
Listen to a seeking sinner pray, and you will hear him asking not for life, but for the pardon of his sins, and if he meets the conditions, he gets pardon and the new life comes with it. Just so is it with the fully justified soul seeking the second work of grace. He seeks to be rid of his inbred or original sin, and when it goes out the blessed Holy Ghost will come in, in His filling, empowering presence, to abide. Glory to God! One great trouble with many is that they think they are the children of God, when they have never repented and been "born again." They hold up their hands in meeting, or sign a card in some popular religious wave, or have joined church and imagined they were Christians when the truth before God is, they never even repented. if you are God's child you know it beyond a doubt, you know when the transaction took place, and you have the witness of the Spirit to that fact, and if you have not the witness of the Spirit, your place is at the altar as a seeker for regeneration; and when you receive the experience you will know it. Bless God! The man who has repented and fought his way back is in the kingdom and knows it.
What a time he has for a while, but some time, when things are calm, if he has been a user of the weed, the devil will come whispering about and say, "Would you not like to have a smoke or a chew?" and something from the inside, from the region of the heart will say, "It would be nice. The devil will whisper, "No harm, just to see if the appetite is gone;" and so forth, and your lips will begin to taste and perhaps your teeth ache, and that something on the inside will begin to beg you to have a smoke, and you will begin to feel the pull. It is all on one side, and it is working hard to turn you around, with your face from God again. Perhaps you may have been very sensitive of what folks said about you, and the devil will bring something of the kind and whisper to you, "If I were in your place I would give that party a piece of my mind," and from within your own breast, something will respond and say, "Yes, go for him, tell him just what you think of him, give him a good calling down," and in your heart something will begin to rise up and twist about, and indignation will rise, and if you are not on your guard you will get angry. Friends, that something from within, that something that responds to those whispered suggestions of the devil, is your carnal mind. So long as you do not give over to it, no matter on what line the temptation may come, you keep your justification and do not commit a sin; but the moment you give over to it, the deed is done, sin has been committed, you have forfeited your justification. Anger is a murderous sin and if you have given over and become angry, or gone back to anything that you have had to give up to become justified, you have lost your justification, for God cannot justify sin." "He that committeth sin is of the devil." "The soul that sinneth it shall die," says the Book. The heart has been turned away, you are on the outside of the kingdom, back toward God, and starting downward again. Perhaps the act was not committed, but the heart responded and said, "yes," to the temptation. It is just as bad in the sight of God, for it is in or with the heart that sin is committed. Jesus said, that "whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." The moment the heart said "yes," the sin was committed. The justified soul cannot do anything or agree to do anything that it knows to be wrong and retain its justification. Neither can it refuse to do what God requires of it and retain its justification. The Book says, "To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. James iv. 17. God cannot justify sin, knowingly committed, either by omission or commission. One act of disobedience put Adam and Eve out of the garden.
Again a goodly number of people have been wonderfully regenerated and they can tell the time and place; but they were not told of the second work of grace that takes away the carnal mind, and in an hour of sore temptation they sinned and fell. The devil is always on hand at such times to tell the soul of that slip, "There you have done it, a pretty Christian you are, that's all the religion you had, I told you you could not live it;" and many more such lies.
Many give up then and there, while others cry out to God in tears over that one sin committed, and find pardon for it. Brother, if you found pardon for it, the Holy Spirit witnesses to that pardon and to your re-acceptance. Have you got that witness? Where are you?
Again, some get back in and fall out again, and perhaps get back again, while others do not get back; they prayed but they received no witness of the Spirit that they were fully forgiven and were taken back, and they have fallen into a kind of rut and say, "Oh, Lord, forgive us our many, many sins. We know we do many things we should not, and leave much undone we should do." Alas, what a multitude are on that line today. You hear it from pulpit and pew. What does the Book say? "He that is born of God doth not commit sin;" "He that committeth sin is of the devil." "To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin." And, as God cannot justify sin, the truth is, they are out of the kingdom and on the downward way to the pit. If their preacher was a sanctified man, he could see and warn them of their danger; but blind leaders of the blind, they both fall into the pit. Friends, it is an awful picture to me; you may think it too close, but this old Book declares it to be true.
A minister with whom I was working a few months ago, and who is a dear friend of mine, asked me what my idea was of the condition of the churches at large. I replied, "I honestly believe that one-half of the membership have never been regenerated and four-fifths of the other half are backslidden in heart and are not in touch with God. "Do you think I am wrong? Then measure up by these Scriptures, and see where they are. How many in the churches of today do not commit sin in the sight of God? How many have scarcely any spiritual power whatever? Go in for a soul-saving campaign, and it is above the average if you can have one-tenth of the membership who are on fire and ready to sing, speak, or get down at the altar and pray seekers through to God. I have been in churches with over a thousand members and with the altar filled with seekers, where I could not get but four or five to get down to pray with any degree of power. I declare to you, the freely, fully regenerated child of God can pray.
The disciples in their justified state had power. Jesus sent them out saying, "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils," and they came back rejoicing in their success. When Jesus was going to Jerusalem and passed through Samaria, and the Samaritans would not receive their Lord, John the beloved said, "Master, shall we command fire from heaven to consume them?" What power John had, and yet that was long before he received the pentecostal power and fire. A dead babe cannot make a noise, but a live, healthy babe, makes folks know that it is around. And so with God's children. They are not a still-born crowd; they can make their wants and wishes known, and any soul that is born of God has a heaven-born desire to see men and women saved. The great success that the Salvation Army had in its early days was owing to the fact that as soon as some one was saved he went at once to save others: but this tongue-tied, still-born churchianity we have these days, without real repentance and supernatural regeneration, cannot save its own members, to say nothing of going out into the byways and hedges for the lost, the hopeless and helpless.
Again, many who have sinned out and have not gotten back, on hearing the preaching of holiness, or the second work of grace, get mad and say they do not believe in such a doctrine, that there is nothing in it; that they got it all when they were converted Poor souls, blinded and duped by the power of sin, they are on their way to a devil's Hell.
Again, many who have sinned out and have not gotten back, on hearing the preaching of holiness, or the second work of grace, say, "Oh, that is just what I want," and become seekers after the experience. And, poor hearts, imagining that they are already regenerated and living in a justified state, sing, "I surrender all," and they do and get a most wonderful blessing on their souls and imagine they have been sanctified wholly, when the truth is they have only been reclaimed from a backslidden state. They say, "I made a full surrender." Sure, but that is just what the seeking sinner has and does do to be pardoned and justified. This class run along for a time, but inbred sin, which has never been cleansed away, begins to work. And then some of them backslide right out and give up. Others struggle along for a time, lose faith in the eradication of the carnal nature, turn back to the suppression theory and gradually step down and out of the fight. I know of some very bright men who were once ministers and evangelists; and they are now down and out, and the tide of lost souls continues to pour over the falls. Some do not get out, but remain in the ministry and pastor popular churches and fight real Bible holiness, or the second work of grace. Others who are not ministers backslide in heart and become strong opposers of Bible holiness. I am intimately acquainted with a number of this class.
But there are those who do not sin out, or backslide. If they do, they weep and pray their way back into the kingdom again. Well, sir, by that time they heartily believe in their need of another work of grace in their hearts. They have discovered much that has been a surprise and painful to themselves, and it has cost them tears, groans and much praying, and that is the presence of the carnal mind remaining in their hearts. You could not make them believe it was not there; they have many a conflict with it, and it has been a sore struggle. They have started out in the morning with a song of victory on their lips, and before noon they have been in a conflict with that inborn, inherited thing. They have kept the victory, or if they lost it, they have wept and cried until they have been conquerors again. Finally they discover the truth, that it is the will of God for them to be sanctified wholly, to be baptized with the Holy Ghost and have carnality destroyed, and now but one concern fills their breast, and one great longing takes possession of them, and that is to get the experience. Husband, wife, land, bank account, friends, earthly possessions, are all but a small price to pay; at any cost they want the experience. You don't have to coax or entreat them. The Word says they can have it, that they can be saved from all sin, the carnal mind eradicated, the old man put to death, crucified, buried, that they may have perfect freedom and liberty, baptized with the Holy Ghost. Their eyes are opened to the fact that this was the great work that Jesus came to do, to take away the sin of the world and to baptize with the Holy Ghost. Oh, they want it; are willing to become a pauper; to be cast out from among men; to be misunderstood, lied about, misrepresented, anything to get the experience. Frowning ecclesiastics no longer awe them social ostracism has no more fear for them; the open door to the poor-house they would gladly enter to get it; they are willing to become a martyr to the cause of lost and perishing souls; willing to step to the side of that Man of sorrow and walk midst the jeering multitudes to Calvary's cross and bear their brow to a crown of thorns placed there by the very ones they would comfort and bless; willing to place their own hands upon the cross of misunderstanding and allow the nails of slander and ostracism to be driven, and that with no wish to retaliate. Anything, any way, at any cross, or cost, they want the experience. Thank God, it is for all such, and they alone. They read in the Book, "To present their bodies a living sacrifice holy;" not a vile, unclean thing, dressed up in all the latest fashions of a Hell-bound world; no, no; but a body, holy. A body without a single sinful habit; not a body conformed to the world, but holy; and they fall prostrate before Him, and to Him and Him alone they come. All else is forgotten; friends, time, and earthly store are gladly and willingly let loose of, and they bring their all to Him. Feet that once wandered in forbidden paths when sold under sin, but which are now redeemed feet, they consecrate to Him and say, "I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord, only sanctify my soul." They bring Him a pair of hands that were once sold under sin and which handled much that was unclean, but are now redeemed hands; they gladly consecrate them to Him and say, "I'll do what you want me to do." They bring a pair of eyes that were once under the power of sin, and when thus, would look on forbidden objects; but are now redeemed eyes; they consecrate them to Him for His glory. They come with their lips that were once sold under sin, and would say much that was wrong; but are now redeemed lips, and they gladly consecrate them to Him and say, "I'll say what you want me to say, dear Lord, only give me this great blessing." They come with faculties that once were sold under sin and were thus used for the devil and selfish purposes and to gain their own ends and satisfy their own ambitions, but are now redeemed faculties, and they consecrate them all to their Lord and say from the heart, "I'll be what you want me to be." Feet, hands, eyes, lips, faculties, all, their all, all they now possess or ever may possess, time, influence, money, to be His and His only, to do with them as He may see it in their remaining days, whether they may be long, short or few, all are willingly, gladly laid on the altar of entire and perfect consecration. No sin to be confessed, except the presence of inborn, inherited sin, and that they plead for Him to kill, crucify and take away, and in its place send the Holy Ghost to live, abide and dwell in their hearts forever more, while time shall last, and when time shall be no more.
Friends, a consecration like that with a cry out of the very soul, will move the very God of Heaven into instant action. He cannot withhold the promise. Jesus said to His disciples, "Tarry and ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." They gathered in the upper room and tarried and the Holy Ghost came. "Tongues of fire." Peter declared it purified their hearts. No more backsliding Peter. No more vindictive John. No place-seeking James. No more hiding from the authorities, and, thank God, no more sin. Down on the street, out on the highway they go, telling the glad and great news. Nothing could stop them. They become invincible; backslidden ecclesiastics or priests had no terror for them; prison bolts and bars could not hold them. On they went. Hear them proclaim the story, "The promise is unto you, and your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Hallelujah? That takes in you and me. Three thousand converts the first day, five thousand the next, false professors exposed, liars struck dead, multitudes believing, until the cry went up, "Those men who have turned the world upside down have come hither also."
Oh, brother, sister, do you want this blessing, this experience, this sanctification, this baptism with the Holy Ghost? If so meet the conditions, and you may have it before you leave this room.